Nikon D5500

24MP APS-C CMOS sensor | Fully articulated touchscreen LCD | 39-point phase detect AF

What we like:

  • Excellent image quality with wide dynamic range
  • Compact body with well-designed grip
  • Articulating LCD touchscreen, usable as an AF touchpad in OVF shooting
  • Focus tracking is impressive

What we don't:

  • Lacks a second control dial
  • No aperture control or auto ISO in video mode
  • Limited buffer

The Nikon D5500 is an un-flashy but capable midrange APS-C DSLR. Nikon has made the D5500 something of a bargain, with plenty of features inherited from higher-end models, meaning it should appeal both to folks moving up from lesser cameras and more advanced users looking for something easier to carry around.

The D5500 is pretty small for a DSLR, but that doesn’t make it any less usable. The newly remodeled grip is deep and easy to hold, and the camera utilizes one-piece construction to be both lightweight and rigid. The single dial control layout could stand to be revisited, but the touchscreen-enabled LCD offers additional easy-to-use controls. One of our favorite features we've seen this year is the ability to use the right side of the touchscreen as an AF touchpad, even when shooting through the viewfinder. We can't imagine why this isn't more commonplace. Built-in Wi-Fi is welcome, though the user experience of the Nikon app leaves much to be desired.

Camera operation is quick, with the D5500 starting up instantly. The autofocus system functions particularly well, utilizing an RGB metering sensor to track moving subjects with impressive accuracy. While a boon for JPEG action-shooters, those wishing to utilize subject tracking with bursts of Raw files will be let down by the D5500’s small buffer.

"The autofocus system utilizes an RGB metering sensor to track moving subjects with impressive accuracy"

Image quality from the is outstanding, whether you're shooting JPEG or Raw. Dynamic range testing on Raw files shows a lot of information hiding in shadows, allowing for plenty of flexibility in post processing, and the ability to shoot high contrast scenes with ease. Noise is well controlled in low light, with class-leading ISO performance.

The articulating touchscreen helps for video capture, allowing for smooth rack-focus with a single touch. The D5500 can capture 1080/60p video. A 'flat' picture profile combined with the impressive low noise sensor allows for more malleable video files for post-production, but the lack of zebra pattern, aperture control, auto ISO and a headphone jack will frustrate more advanced videographers. Still, video quality is good in bright and low light.

Nikon’s D5500 is a compact, lightweight and thoroughly competent DSLR. Despite lacking some video features and having a fairly shallow buffer, image quality and autofocus performance are excellent.

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